Conjuring for Beginners

Conjuring for Beginners

Project Arts Centre

Sam Keogh, Terrestris (detail), 2012.

June 19, 2012

Conjuring for Beginners
4 July–11 August 2012

Opening: Tuesday, 3 July, 6pm
Exhibition: 4 July–11 August 2012

Project Arts Centre
39 East Essex Street
Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland
Hours: Mon–Sat, 11–7pm

gallery [​at​]

Sam Keogh (IE), Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel (FR), Angela Fulcher (UK/IE), Ruth E. Lyons (IE), Zbyněk Baladrán (CZ), Janice Kerbel (CA) and Susan Philipsz (UK)

The call of “overture and beginners” by a stage director prompts a flurry of activity, the call for “beginners” warning actors to be on stage before the curtain rises. These beginners are both sculpture and tableaux: frozen in their places, creating the illusion that time is about to be released from its inert pause, the show about to begin. Exhibitions are also shows, but with durations that stretch over weeks rather than hours and with a cast and crew who are fixed in their animation, in tableaux, loops and scenes. Both in the space of theatre and in the scorching light of the white cube, artists become conjurers who create images and experiences, sometimes supported by the illusions of their apparatus.

This summer Project Arts Centre throws open its doors to the visual arts, presenting three exhibitions in all of its three spaces—the two theatre auditoriums and the gallery. Across the multi-disciplinary arts centre, exhibitions include a major new commission by Sam Keogh (IE), a group show featuring works by Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel (FR), Angela Fulcher (UK/IE), and Ruth E. Lyons (IE), as well as an “empty” exhibition with artworks by Zbyněk Baladrán (CZ), Janice Kerbel (CA), and Susan Philipsz (UK).

Sam Keogh‘s major new commission Terrestris is an exercise in excavation. Sealed in the seemingly infinite darkness of Project Arts Centre’s largest theatre space, Keogh’s installation focuses on clusters of small, carefully lit sculptures and plinths, each apparently mined from an unlit, hulking, monumental form in the centre of the space. Simultaneously repulsive and attractive, Keogh’s forms are reminiscent of minerals, crystals, or rock samples, but their toxic colouration and obviously artificial constituents speak of the stuff that the earth cannot digest, rather than anything produced naturally. The shared provenance of Terrestris and the contingency of its status (its reliance on context, belief, ideology, or market value) claims a radical democratization of material. From this base level of equality, Terrestris claims its agency-as-matter.

Project Art Centre’s second theatre space forms the apparatus for a group exhibition that is notionally empty, with all seating and sets removed. With installations by Zbyněk Baladrán, Janice Kerbel, and Susan Philipsz, each of the artworks has its own motivation, draws our attention to its formal elements, and is largely estranged from the arts plastique of the visual arts. Zbyněk Baladrán’s short film installation, Night of the World, is focused on the moments before a film begins, Janice Kerbel’s Kill the Workers! is a play performed solely by theatrical lighting, and Susan Philipsz’ sound installation, I See a Darkness, is an aural experience that gradually translates into sculpture. The exhibition-in-repertory is, like much theatre, a durational experience. Unfolding artwork after artwork, the exhibition harnesses the skills and illusionary strategies of technical theatre, while experimenting with the structures, display, and scenography of contemporary visual art exhibitions.

Set within the gallery space of Project Arts Centre is the capsized reality of an island scene. Grounded by Amphibious Sound, a swarming, black, neoprene wetsuit sculpture by Ruth E. Lyons, and roofed by Hurry on Sundown, a billowing, multi-coloured hanging sculpture by Angela Fulcher, this is a place where objects, artifacts, and artworks exist contrary to their original material construction. Like the illusionist’s apparition, works by Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel resemble gigantic totemic necklaces or quasi-ceremonial findings, their precious ceramic and wood forms twisting the building blocks of contemporary culture. In this space, the conviction of the exotic or other is as imaginary as the island itself.

Amidst Conjuring for Beginners are piles of publications for the public to freely take away. Exposing the ideas behind the artworks throughout the entire building, or jettisoning away into the reflections of a philosopher, each of the publications has its own purpose. Stacked like worn pillars, the subjects of these humbly produced books range from works of literature and experimental writing to art works and a colouring-in book—inspiring children and adults to conjure the scene.

Conjuring for Beginners is curated by Tessa Giblin.

Sam Keogh’s new work Terrestris has been commissioned and produced by Project Arts Centre.
Conjuring for Beginners is supported by The Irish Times and the French Embassy in Ireland.

Admission is free, and a series of live, parallel events will run throughout the exhibition’s duration.

Project Arts Centre is a multidisciplinary arts centre in the heart of Dublin, Ireland. The visual arts program commissions new exhibitions with leading artists from around the world. Forthcoming exhibitions feature a guest curated project by Krist Gruijthuijsen (NL) and the group exhibition Whitewashing the Moon, with artists including Caroline Achaintre (FR), Eleanor Duffin (IE), Raphaël Zarka (FR), Jorge De la Garza (MX), Barbara Knezevic (AU/IE), co-curated by Tessa Giblin (NZ) and Kate Strain (IE).

Project Arts Centre is supported by the Arts Council and Dublin City Council.



Conjuring for Beginners at Project Arts Centre, Dublin
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June 19, 2012

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